What is acne?
Acne is considered the curse of the adolescent. At this time of life, when boys and girls are so conscious of their physical appearance, the appearance of a pimple on their face spells disaster.
Acne is an infection of the sebaceous glands that results in the development of pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, and sometimes even boils and cysts. It usually occurs during puberty when the sebaceous glands become more active. However, in certain cases, hereditary factors or other conditions can cause acne to persist in adulthood.
Usually, secretions from the skin
glands travel up the hair follicle to the surface of the skin. Acne develops
when the hair follicle is blocked. This results in a build-up of oil and
bacteria, which ruptures the skin. Pimples and blackheads are manifestations
of secondary infections. A blackhead or whitehead appears when dust, dirt
or sebum blocks a skin pore. The waxy plug that blocks the pore is called
a comedo. This forms a blackhead when it is exposed to air. Oxidation turns
the head of the comedo black. If it is not open to the air, a whitehead
Acne and hormones
Acne can also occur as a response of the skin gland to the hormone androgen (a weak male hormone). At the time of puberty, there is a slight hormonal imbalance that is caused by a girlís ovaries and adrenal glands secreting extra androgens, thus increasing the ratio of androgens to estrogen. Stress is also a factor to be considered as during times of stress, our bodies release additional androgens.
Acne can also be linked to a womanís
menstrual cycle. Some women find that they break out into pimples just
before the onset of their menses. Some women who have erratic menstrual
cycles and do not ovulate properly often develop acne as a result of increased
androgen production by the ovaries. The reason why some women feel that
their skin improves after going on the birth control pill is because the
estrogen in the pills reduces skin sensitivity to androgens. A high level
of estrogen in pregnant women also makes for healthier skin. Adult acne
may be linked to other skin problems like tiny broken blood vessels (telangectasia)
or inflamed eyelids (blepharitis).
What you can do about it